Tonight I tested a recipe for from-scratch (that is, not out of a box) macaroni and cheese. Now, in case you’re thinking that I’m the kind of mother who refuses to give her kid mac and cheese from a box, you couldn’t be more wrong. For the past two years I was THRILLED when Charlie ate mac and cheese from the box. Charlie is a picky eater, and by picky I basically mean I can count on one hand the different meals he’ll consent to eat. Up until recently, mac and cheese from the box was one of those five meals. Imagine my distress when, for seemingly no reason at all, he just stopped agreeing to eat mac and cheese. So, I decided to try auditioning recipes to see if I could convince Charlie to give macaroni and cheese another try. I made one recipe a couple of weeks ago but Charlie refused it. Tonight I tried my friend William’s recipe. Here it is:
Macaroni and Cheese
2 cups cooked elbow macaroni
2 1/4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 bay leaf
2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper
Boil macaroni until just tender (about 7 minutes) then drain. In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Gradually whisk in flour and let cook for a couple of minutes. Slowly mix in milk a little at a time. Stir in bay leaf, paprika and onion. Bring to boil and then let simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat, take out the bay leaf, and stir in 2/3 of the cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in cooked macaroni. Pour half of the mixture into a greased 2 quart casserole dish, put a layer of cheese on top, add the second half of the macaroni mixture, and finish with a layer of cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
The result is above–I know, it looks just like you’d expect, big surprise. I actually modified the recipe just slightly. I used 1 tsp of paprika instead of 2, added slightly more than 2 cups macaroni because that’s how much I ended up having left in the box, and I added about 3/4 cups of very finely diced chicken (leftover from the previous night’s roasted garlic chicken). Charlie won’t eat meat. Given he’s 3, I’m fairly sure his refusal to eat meat is not based on ethical principles so I don’t feel guilty trying to disguise it. I worry that he doesn’t get enough protein so I try to be imaginative, hence the finely chopped chicken.
The result? Charlie ate it! He ate his entire portion. The chicken was impossible to detect.
Overall, I give this recipe a thumbs up and I’ll definitely make it again.
And now for the tally:
1/4 box elbow macaroni: $.50
cheddar cheese: $1.97 (for an 8 oz block, although technically I only used about 7 oz of it)
chicken: $1.66 (1/3 of the $4.99 chicken I bought yesterday)
butter, flour, milk, onion, bay leaf, paprika, salt and pepper: hmm, it’s hard to calculate but the amount is pretty negligible. Let’s call it $1.00, but I think that’s overestimating.
But wait, it gets better. The three of us only ate 1/2 of the mac and cheese, so we’ll have the leftovers tomorrow night. So basically $5.13 represents 6 servings, or about $.85 a serving. Wow. That’s some cheap eats! And the best part about it–CHARLIE ATE IT!! It doesn’t get any better than that.